For Jack Pickett, his new restaurant on Stowe's Mountain Road has been a long time coming. "The plumber finished last week," says the restaurateur best known for the now-closed Frida's Taqueria and Grill. "He cut his first pipe two years ago."
This Saturday, Phoenix Table and Bar, Pickett's collaboration with Frida's co-owner and chef Joshua Bard, will finally open after two and a half years of work. The first night will be a benefit for the Morrisville Food Co-op, a project in which Pickett has been instrumental. Phoenix's full menu will debut with a normal dinner service on Sunday, April 27.
The 1652 Mountain Road building has undergone major changes in the past two years, but Pickett emphasizes that the Greek Revival former home is now back to its erstwhile splendor, sans 1970s-era touches.
Besides a 125-seat main dining room, the restaurant has a large function room that will regularly host live music. As warm days become the norm, diners will be able to eat on the sizable deck and enjoy drinks on the fenced-in lawn, along with games of bocce.
While Phoenix will start with just daily dinner service, lunch will be served by the end of May, says Pickett. On weekends, that will transform into brunch.
At Frida's, the menu was restricted to Mexican fare. By contrast, Pickett calls Phoenix's cuisine "regional American." "Everything is in America — we don't have to stay in those tighter parameters of a strict cuisine," he explains. "In Louisiana there are tamales everywhere, so we can serve tamales 'cause we love tamales."
Other dishes on the starting menu include chicken and waffles with rhubarb jam and root-vegetable slaw, lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce and a banh mi sandwich. Pickett says the "nice, big bar" will continue to serve after Phoenix stops food service for the night at 10 p.m. A large cocktail list will attract some drinkers, while craft beers on tap will please others.
But Pickett is proudest to serve a taste of the resort town itself: the small-batch hard cider from Stowe Cider. Paired with foods from all over the country, that taste of the ultralocal should keep guests rooted in the Green Mountain landscape.